PRO3 Win #1
For some, winning a 30 minute race may seem trivial. For me, it was a personal goal that I’ve been striving to achieve for 40+ PRO3 races and the feeling was FANTASTIC! This is a short blog about how it felt and how it came about.
Oregon Raceway Park (ORP) has always been one of my favorite tracks. Despite an incident at the start of the race in 2013, I’ve always finished well there but this weekend past was a new experience for all of us; the track in reverse (or counter clockwise). The weekend was a double header. I opted to visit the track on Friday to learn the configuration and get the car setup. The track is fantastic. Harder, arguably safer and definitely more of a challenge counter clockwise. We all were close on times and for Race 1 I had qualified 5th. The ensuing race itself was amazing fun battling for 4th place with Olivier Henrichot and Rob Dunn. What was apparent was that having brakes that were optimal was a key parameter. I was being out broken in many corners.
For Sunday morning we bolted on some brand new PFC-08 pads on the front and headed out for Group 5 practice/qualifying. The car immediately felt better and I went a good 0.5s faster. It was a session and as we started PRO3 qualifying the car felt superb. I progressively got faster and I set a pretty good time in the every increasingly hot track. I thought I’d done OK but as I drove in I got a lot of fingers pointed and to hear the news “you got pole” as I climbed from me car, was, quite simply, awesome. My first in PRO3 and something that I had been so close in previous weekends but never managed to get.
The pressure was now on and a 5 hour wait until the PRO3 race didn’t exactly help the situation as I got more and more anxious for the race.
We circulated on our installation lap and as we approached the final corner behind the safety car, Brad Greco gave me the wave and it was go time. I got a pretty decent start and when Hank yelled “clear” I knew I could take the racing line. I went a touch wide into T1 (T16) and after bouncing over the curb I was in front and leading the PRO3 group through the course. I tried to calm my nerves and focus but it just wasn’t happening. Dan Gavrila was behind me and pressuring me hard. He went for a pass on lap 2 and I gave him just enough room, I knew he’d try and out brake me so a tight apex and more speed meant he overshot the corner, I slowed, took the racing line and regained the spot. It was time to lay down some laps and 10 (of 17) laps - that would have been front row qualifying laps - made it pretty hard for Dan to pass. I kept him behind and after 20mins he was called into the pits for mechanical issue. The last 10mins I had Cody Smith behind me who had fought his way up from last to 2nd. He pushed me the whole way until the end and there it was, the LL (last lap) board and with a final lap of missing apexes and holding on for dear life, I crossed the line in 1st place. I was yelling on the radio thanking the team for helping and was elated. As we crossed the scales they said “2645” which was 5lbs light. I was too emotional to know they were joking and I didn’t know what to think! Very quickly Hank yelled them to “tell the truth” and 2661lbs later I was official. Bloody brilliant!
I couldn’t have done this without Hank, Sam all of AAF and the help of my fellow racers in Dan Gavrila and Cody Smith that weekend. It goes to show that we were all together, separated from the pack by a country mile and had all worked together on our collective racing.
Race footage is below!